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Ethiopia’s government is using imported technology to spy on the phones and computers of Citizens March 26, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Aannolee and Calanqo, Africa, Africa Rising, African Poor, Aid to Africa, Colonizing Structure, Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Facebook and Africa, Free development vs authoritarian model, Nubia, Ogaden, OMN, Oromia, Oromia Support Group Australia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Nation, Oromummaa, Self determination, Sidama, Slavery, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, Tweets and Africa, Tyranny, Uncategorized, Youth Unemployment.
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Human Rights Watch (HRW) in it recent research report exposes that Ethiopia has built up a large monitoring system for controlling citizens’ network and phone usage.  According to this report the government has a  sole monopoly of  telecommunications and network. And  there is no right constraints that prevent the government from gaining an overview of who have contact with anyone on the phone, sms and internet. The government also saves phone calls on a large scale.  The  authoritarian regime is using imported technology to spy on the phones and computers of its perceived opponents. HRW accuses the government of trying to silence dissent, using software and kit sold by European and Chinese firms. The report says the firms may be guilty of colluding in oppression.

“While monitoring of communications can legitimately be used to combat criminal activity, corruption, and terrorism, in Ethiopia there is little in the way of guidelines or directives on surveillance of communications or use of collected information to ensure such practices are not illegal. In different parts of the world, the rapid growth of information and communications technology has provided new opportunities for individuals to communicate in a manner and at a pace like never before, increasing the space for political discourse and facilitating access to information. However, many Ethiopians have not been able to enjoy these opportunities. Instead, information and

communications technology is being used as yet another method through which the government seeks to exercise complete control over the population, stifling the rights to freedom of expression and association, eroding privacy, and limiting access to information—all of which limit opportunities for expressing contrary opinions and engaging in meaningful debate.”

“Human Rights Watch interviews suggest that a significant number of Oromo individuals have been targeted for unlawful surveillance. Those arrested are invariably accused of being members or supporters of the OLF. In some cases, security officials may have a reasonable suspicion of these  individuals being involved with OLF. But in the majority of cases, Oromos were under surveillance because they were organizing cultural associations or trade unions, were involved in celebrating Oromo culture (through music, art, etc.) or were involved in registered political parties.

“Like the OLF, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) was initially a political party, but began a low-level armed insurgency in Ethiopia’s Somali region in response to what it perceived to be the EPRDF’s failure to respect regional autonomy, and to consider demands for self-determination. In 2007, the ONLF scaled up armed attacks against government targets and oil exploration sites, triggering a harsh crackdown by the government. As with the government’s counterinsurgency response to the OLF, the Ethiopian security forces have routinely committed abuses against individuals of Somali ethnicity, including arbitrary detentions, torture, and extrajudicial killings,
based on their ethnicity or perceived support for the ONLF.”

“Internet usage in Ethiopia is still in its infancy with less than 1.5 percent of Ethiopians connected to the Internet and fewer than 27,000 broadband subscribers countrywide. By contrast, neighboring Kenya has close to 40 percent access.The majority of Internet users are located in Addis Ababa. According to the ITU, Ethiopia has some of the most expensive broadband in the world. Given these costs, Ethiopians usually access the Internet through the growing number of cybercafés or from their mobile phones.Internet has been available to mobile phone subscribers since 2009.Increasingly available in many of the more expensive hotels and cafes. Connectivity speeds countrywide are quite low, and are prone to frequent outages.”

“State-owned Ethio Telecom is the only telecommunications service provider in Ethiopia. It controls access to the phone network and to the Internet and all phone and Internet traffic must use Ethio Telecom infrastructure. There is no other service provider available in Ethiopia. Ethio Telecom therefore controls access to the Internet backbone that connects Ethiopia to the international Internet. In addition, Internet cafés must apply for a license and purchase service from Ethio Telecom to operate.”

“As Internet access increases, some governments are adopting or compelling use of technologies like “deep packet inspection” (DPI). Deep packet inspection enables the examination of the content of communications (an email or a website) as it is transmitted over an Internet network. Once examined, the communications can be then copied, analyzed, blocked, or even altered. DPI equipment allows Internet service providers—and by extension, governments—to monitor and analyze Internet communications of potentially millions of users in real time. While DPI does have some commercial applications, DPI is also a powerful tool for Internet filtering and blocking and can enable highly intrusive surveillance. Finally, some governments have begun using intrusion software to infiltrate an individual’s computer or mobile phone. Also known as spyware or malware, such software can allow a government to capture passwords (and other text typed into the device), copy or delete files, and even turn on the microphone or camera of the device to eavesdrop. Such software is often unwittingly downloaded when an individual opens a malicious link or file disguised as a legitimate item of interest to the target.”

“The vast majority of the cases documented by Human Rights Watch involving access to phone recordings involved Oromo defendants organizing Oromos in cultural associations, student associations, and trade unions. No credible evidence was presented that would appear to justify their arrest and detention or the accessing of their private phone records. These interrogations took place not only in Addis Ababa, but in numerous police stations and detention centers throughout Oromia and elsewhere in Ethiopia. As described in other publications, the government has gone to great lengths to prevent Oromos and other ethnicities from organizing groups and associations. While the increasing usefulness of the mobile phone to mobilize large groups of people quickly provides opportunities for young people, in particular, to form their own networks, Ethiopia’s monopoly and control over this technology provides Ethiopia with another tool to suppress the formation of these organizations and restrict freedoms of association and peaceful assembly.”

“Ethiopia was the first sub-Saharan African country to begin blocking Internet sites. The first reports of blocked websites appeared in May 2006 when opposition blogs were unavailable, and blocking has become more regular and pervasive ever since. Human Rights Watch and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab conducted testing in-country in July and August of 2013 to assess the availability of 171 different URLs that had a higher likelihood of being blocked, based on past testing, on the Ethio Telecom network. A total of 19 tests were run over seven days to ensure reliability of results.”

Read further @

“They Know Everything We Do”

Telecom and Internet Surveillance in Ethiopia






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